C.F.W. Walther: Filching from sectarian worship resources equals “soul murder”

Thanks to a loyal BJS reader for finding this post on Lutheran Worship from the Intrepid Lutherans blog. They are a group of Wisconsin Synod Lutherans who, like the Brothers of John the Steadfast, are concerned about the intrusion of the Church Growth mentality into Lutheran orthodox churches.

If you find a website that would be of interest to our readers, feel free to contact us telling us about it.

From Intrepid Lutherans:

 

In October of 1998, Professor Mark DeGarmeaux (Bethany Lutheran College, ELS) delivered a paper to the Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum of the ELS and WELS in Milwaukee, WI. The title of this paper was Sacramental Worship, Sacramental Preaching: Treasures of our Lutheran Church — a terrific little essay that explores and extols the unique liturgical treasure we Lutherans have inherited, concluding:

The Lutheran church has been truly blessed by God with a rich treasury of liturgy, hymnody, preaching, and praying. We are not a sect, but we understand and recognize ourselves as part of the Church catholic, the one Holy Christian and Apostolic Church. At the same time we realize that there is a difference between our theology and that of other denominations in many ways. Our treasures are in the understanding of sacramental and sacrificial elements in the Divine Service, in understanding the Word and Sacraments as powerful and efficacious means of grace, and in the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. And we look forward to the marriage feast of heaven when the Bride will be joined to Christ Himself and will enjoy the great sacramentum of the marriage feast of the Lamb.

This treasure has been kept and valued by generations of Lutheran confessors as a practice which carries a body of worshipers through the Divine Service, focusing them on Christ and His gifts, in a way that not only represents and reinforces our body of pure doctrine, but our distinction and separation from the heterodox. So how would a Lutheran, imbued with genuine confessional ardor, react to the notion of importing sectarian worship forms into Lutheran practice? Using C.F.W. Walther as a benchmark of confessional ardor, DeGarmeaux demonstrates the answer to this question by including as an Appendix to his essay the following letter from Walther, which was written to a man who asked about the use of Methodist worship resources in Lutheran churches:

Honored Sir,

This morning I received your worthy letter, written on the 19th of the month. In your letter you ask for my opinion on whether it is advisable to introduce the singing of Methodist songs in a Lutheran Sunday School. May what follows serve as a helpful reply to your questions:

No, this is not advisable, rather very incorrect and pernicious.

  1. Our church is so rich in hymns that you could justifiably state that if one were to introduce Methodist hymns in a Lutheran school this would be like carrying coals to Newcastle. The singing of such hymns would make the rich Lutheran Church into a beggar which is forced to beg from a miserable sect. Thirty or forty years ago a Lutheran preacher might well have been forgiven this. For at that time the Lutheran Church in our country was as poor as a beggar when it comes to song books for Lutheran children. A preacher scarcely knew where he might obtain such little hymn books. Now, however, since our church itself has everything it needs, it is unpardonable when a preacher of our church causes little ones to suffer the shame of eating a foreign bread.
  2. A preacher of our church also has the holy duty to give souls entrusted to his care pure spiritual food, indeed, the very best which he can possibly obtain. In Methodist songs there is much which is false, and which contains spiritual poison for the soul.Therefore, it is soul-murder to set before children such poisonous food. If the preacher claims, that he allows only “correct” hymns to be sung, this does not excuse him. For, first of all, the true Lutheran spirit is found in none of them; second, our hymns are more powerful, more substantive, and more prosaic; third, those hymns which deal with the Holy Sacraments are completely in error; fourth, when these little sectarian hymnbooks come into the hands of our children, they openly read and sing false hymns.
  3. A preacher who introduces Methodist hymns, let alone Methodist hymnals, raises the suspicion that he is no true Lutheran at heart, and that he believes one religion is as good as the other, and that he thus a unionistic-man, a mingler of religion and churches.
  4. Through the introduction of Methodist hymn singing he also makes those children entrusted to his care of unionistic sentiment, and he himself leads them to leave the Lutheran Church and join the Methodists.
  5. By the purchase of Methodist hymn books he subsidizes the false church and strengthens the Methodist fanatics in their horrible errors. For the Methodists will think, and quite correctly so, that if the Lutheran preachers did not regard our religion as good as, or indeed, even better than their own, they would not introduce Methodist hymn books in their Sunday schools, but rather would use Lutheran hymn books.
  6. By introducing Methodist hymn books, the entire Lutheran congregation is given great offense, and the members of the same are lead to think that Methodists, the Albright people, and all such people have a better faith than we do.

This may be a sufficient answer regarding this dismal matter. May God keep you in the true and genuine Lutheran faith, and help you not to be misled from the same, either to the right or to the left.

Your unfamiliar, yet known friend, in the Lord Jesus Christ,

C. F. W. Walther
St. Louis, Missouri
January 23, 1883

Notice that there are at least two factors involved in Walther’s blistering criticism of sectarian worship resources. First, the introduction of false teaching to the congregation (a) by the false content of the sectarian worship, (b) by the true teaching which is absent from it, and (c) by the manner in which the Methodist practice itself entices the congregation away from the Lutheran confession, is inexcusable and alone grounds for rejecting material from such sources. Second, the fellowship implications involved with endorsing such materials, and subsidizing their sources, not only impacts other Lutherans, who have every right to question the allegiances of those responsible for introducing such materials, but impacts the sectarians from whom we remain separate, who consequently have every right to suspect (based on the practice of using sectarian sources, itself!) that those Lutherans using their materials are, in fact, admitting deficiency in their own confession.

If we grant that Walther is a suitable benchmark of confessional ardor, how would we categorize those who are indifferent to the usage of sectarian and heterodox worship materials? According to Walther, above, it seems that a pastor who engages in practice which raises suspicions regarding his confession is himself guilty of offense against the whole congregation, not the observer who is led to suspicion on the basis of that pastor’s public practice. Is this an accurate assessment of the above statements? If so, is this consistent with more contemporary teaching regarding how one ought to interpret public practice? Based on what Walther seems to say above, should a Lutheran pastor so conduct himself in his public practice as to raise no suspicions regarding his fidelity to the Lutheran confession, or is such fidelity strictly a matter of internal motivations, making public practice not much of a big deal at all?

 

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

C.F.W. Walther: Filching from sectarian worship resources equals “soul murder” — 25 Comments

  1. I’m only about halfway through it, but Prof DeGarmeaux’s paper is great reading. He has some good history of the various Reformed bodies and how that have wormed their way into the culture and many churches.

    It’s bad enough when we have a “reformed” song/hymn in our hymnals, but to introduce entire songbooks, etc really create the opportunity for confusion and lack of comfort for Lutherans.

    Another paper referenced in the article also makes some great points:

    http://www.wlsessays.net/files/DanellReformed.pdf

  2. So, should we burn our Lutheran Service Books since they contain several hymns by Charles Wesley?

  3. Walter seemed to be able to “visualize” the unseen world and understood the responsibility he had to be faithful. He understood these were not small matters.

  4. Dear Norm,

    Thank you very much for posting this great letter by Walther, via the essay of Professor Mark DeGarmeaux at Bethany!

    As Walther says, this is a “dismal matter.” I always find it depressing to talk to “Lutherans” who want to use Evangelical hymns or imitate Evangelical worship. I am not saddened about the fact that they want to do this, as much as this evidences that they don’t understand the treasures of the Gospel we have in the Lutheran church. Furthermore, most of these folks, i.e., the ones I have talked to, don’t WANT to understand the Gospel, they just want religion.

    In Walther’s days, the German-English language difference proved to be a beneficial barrier. The only real threat to LCMS laymen then was from the German Methodists and the Albright Brethren, since the LCMS laymen were almost all German-speaking. One of my laymen here in Evansville has shown me 19th century German Methodists hymnals and devotional materials that her Lutheran ancestors owned, published in Cincinnati. So there has probably always been a little bit of influence among the laymen who didn’t know better.

    Today the threat is much worse, because we all speak English now, and our pastors and laymen frequent Evangelical bookstores, listen to Evangelical radio and podcasts, watch Evangelical TV, etc., etc. And they all “covet” when they drive by the huge Evangelical mega-churches. They want to be big, successful, prosperous, growing, and healthy like the Evangelicals. And/or they want to get the feeling of being “holy” that is at the heart of Methodism, Evangelicalism, and all their sectarian offspring.

    I think the “bigness” of the Evangelical churches is what is most attractive to people today, also the wealth, evidenced by parking lots full of expensive cars at the mega-church mall. Moses says “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong” (Exodus 23:2). It is wrong for Lutherans to “covet” what Evangelicals have; even MORE wrong to IMITATE them in the hope that some of that largess will come our way.

    Some pastors in the LCMS try to be Lutheran and “Evangelical” at the same time. In the passage above, Walther says about such a preacher that he is “a unionistic-man, a mingler of religion and churches.”

    In response to Mr. Naylor, comment #2, as I have said previously on this topic, not all hymns and not all hymn verses written by non-Lutheran authors are objectionable. Screening out the bad and approving the good was the purpose of the former Commission on Worship, which did a superb job in doing just that for the Lutheran Service Book.

    The sad fact is that many pastors will not “stick to their guns” in the matter of hymnody. If their people want Evangelical hymns, they will give it to them. This is to abandon a chief part of a pastor’s job, i.e., doctrinal oversight of worship, catechesis, religious education, etc.

    The LCMS pastor is responsible for all doctrine taught, spoken, printed (or distributed in print), and sung at his congregation. He cannot delegate that responsibility to others. Furthermore, the use of doctrinally sound educational and worship materials is not a matter of congregational freedom under LCMS Constitution VII. It is mandated under LCMS Constitution VI.4. Pastors need to stick to this, even when the people don’t like it.

    To paraphrase Luther “How will you pastors answer for it before Christ that you have so shamefully neglected the people and paid no attention at all to these duties of your office? May you escape punishment for this!” (Small Catechism, Preface, 4; Tappert, 338).

    Thanks again, Norm, for this very important post!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  5. mames :
    @George Naylor #2 The hymns that are in there are in alignment with our theology – a stopped clock… They were chosen by the Synod not by some renegade pastor.

    So, an error is okay as long as it’s done by a lot of people, i.e. the synod as a whole? Walther doesn’t seem to make any provision for adopting Methodist hymns as long as the synod as a whole does it.

    In point of fact, I’m actually in agreement with Pr. Noland when he says, “…as I have said previously on this topic, not all hymns and not all hymn verses written by non-Lutheran authors are objectionable. Screening out the bad and approving the good was the purpose of the former Commission on Worship, which did a superb job in doing just that for the Lutheran Service Book.”

    However, that point seems to be in direct conflict with Walther’s quotation cited in the post. The point I’m trying to make, & probably doing poorly, is that we can only take Walther’s quote so far. Which I don’t think the posting takes into account. Otherwise, I have no problem with the main point the posting is trying to make.

  6. Great post Norm! Next time I meet up with some of my CoWoer friends I’m going to tell them that C.F.W. Walther thinks that sectarian worship resources are a bad idea.

  7. I am happy to see this by Mark DeGarmeaux. He is the translator of the 2000 English edition of Bishop Nils Jakob Laache’s Book of Family prayer that I use. It follows the one-year lectionary as sometimes modified in Norway near the end of the 19th century.

    An article of his that relates to the posting here is: “Sacramental Worship, Sacramental Preaching: Treasures of our Lutheran Church,” available here: http://www.blc.edu/comm/gargy/gargy1/SacramentalWorship.html

    Another article complementary to the posting here is “Creating An Illusion: Is Adiaphora always Adiaphora? Contemporary Worship and the Lutheran Confessions,” Rev. Richard Waters, available here: http://users.joplin.com/faith/illusion.htm.

  8. It is wise that songs are chosen not merely based on style and theme but rather the clarity of words and doctrine and substance of the words. Isn’t there even a danger to choose popular songs by artists who do not share the belief of confessional Lutherans? If one song is great but the same artist has multiple songs that do not align with our confessions, using the one good song could lead some to purchase more songs by the artist exposing them to false teachings.

    “By introducing Methodist hymn books, the entire Lutheran congregation is given great offense, and the members of the same are lead to think that Methodists, the Albright people, and all such people have a better faith than we do.”

    This should be applied to all resources that the church uses. If congregations are infiltrated by materials of Reformed teachers and preachers through use of their books and videos in bible classes, small groups, sermons, seminars and sunday school & dayschool material, they are lead to believe that there is something missing in Lutheranism.

  9. @Martin R. Noland #5

    “I think the “bigness” of the Evangelical churches is what is most attractive to people today”

    Young, single people in the 18-35 age range are attracted to a larger church in the hope that they will meet “the one” and get married. Larger churches also make economic sense. Is it logical in the 21st century to have three LCMS Lutheran churches, each with 300 members, within 5 miles of each other?

    “They want to be big, successful, prosperous, growing, and healthy like the Evangelicals.”

    I sometimes wonder if LCMS pastors are trying to recoup the cost of attending an LCMS seminary. $21, 000 a year tuition, multiplied by 4 years equals A LOT of student loans. Apparently, the LCMS churches give the seminaries nothing.

    LCMS, Inc, indeed:

    http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2010/12/bruce-church-httpsbruce-church.html

    Soul murder is being committed by a group of seeker-church frauds:

    http://www.willowcreek.com/

    And here are the willing participants:

    //steadfastlutherans.org/wc/

    ‘Nuff said

  10. Soul Murder: Jas 3:1 My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

    Who wants this responsibility?!

  11. “They want to be big, successful, prosperous, growing, and healthy like the Evangelicals.”

    Indeed~ big, successful, prosperous, growing, and healthy are sure symptoms of false theology at work. I thank God daily that the church I attend has none of the above qualities.

  12. #4 Kitty :

    “They want to be big, successful, prosperous, growing, and healthy like the Evangelicals.”

    Indeed~ big, successful, prosperous, growing, and healthy are sure symptoms of false theology at work. I thank God daily that the church I attend has none of the above qualities.

    Growing in this world often if not always means people are losing their faith about their life in Christ.

  13. @Perry Lund #13

    I agree and am comforted, despite recent debacles like STOP/Concordia and the ongoing worship wars, that our numbers consistently indicate Missouri is headed in the right direction.

  14. @James #10

    Dear James,

    I can’t tell from your comments whether you intend them sincerely or ironically. If I knew you personally, knew your theological and religious outlook, and knew your tendency toward irony (or avoidance of the same), then I could tell what you are saying. As it is, your comments are unclear.

    Whether or not you agree with me, this is a fact: most pastors today have a deep-seated feeling of inferiority about their congregation if it is not experiencing statistical growth. This is not unique to the LCMS, but it is a new feature on the religious frontier. It is due to the influence of American “business growth” models combined with non-denominational churches’ anti-social and sectarian behavior.

    G. Jeffrey MacDonald has a new book titled “Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the Selling of the American Soul” (New York: Basic Books, 2010). The jacket flap reads: “Once devoted to forming character and conscience among its followers, the contemporary church has let the marketplace take control. Churchgoers demand entertainment, not edification. Pastors, desperate to grow membership rolls, treat their churches more like companies and their congregations more like customers. In an effort to cast a wide net for souls, churches have sacrificed their ability to transform Americans’ self-serving impulses for the better.” I agree with MacDonald’s analysis and diagnosis in the book, but not with all of his prescriptions. It is worth a good read.

    Barbara Ehrenreich has a relatively new book titled “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Postive Thinking has Undermined America” (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2009). She gives a hard-hitting but honest appraisal of the Prosperity Gospel (Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, the Copelands, and Joel Osteen) and the Church Growth Gospel (Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels), which she sees as forms of Positive Thinking (Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, Norman Vincent Peale, and Robert Schuller). I agree with her analysis, and it also is worth a good read.

    Ehrenreich has an important section, pp. 52-59, in which she observes how a primary characteristic of Positive Thinking types is “The Menace of Negative People.” The result is that churches which have adopted this way of thinking (includes Willow Creek) have a mandate from God to get rid of negative people. “Negative people” can be defined in any way that you like, but in a church context it usually means anyone that is a critic.

    This explains to me why we see so many people commenting here at BJS who uncomfortable with even fair-minded, measured criticism and justified dissent. They think that any form of criticism is NEGATIVE THINKING, and therefore is contrary to God and religion. The result is that they want to shut down this web-site and get rid of the people who comment here.

    Oh, by the way, before Brothers of the John the Steadfast was started, they got rid of me and Todd.

    If such people would just stop to THINK, instead of reacting UNCRITICALLY, they would realize that the Bible is full of negative thinking and criticism. Moses criticized Pharoah, Nathan criticized David, the prophets criticized the Israelite kings, Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees (ummm . . .they got rid of him, you know), Paul criticized the Judaizers, Peter, and James, John criticized the gnostics, etc.

    Then the history of the church is filled with orthodox, fair-minded, and measured critics: Irenaeus against gnostics, Athanasius against Arius, Augustine against Pelagius, Luther against the whole papacy and scholastic theology, Chemnitz against the crypto-Calvinists, Gerhard against Bellarmine, Loescher against the Pietists, Stephan against Ammon, Walther against Grabau, Pieper against Fritschel and others, etc.

    Furthermore, the pastor has the special duty to criticize and rebuke (2 Timothy 4:2). That is one reason why he is a “spiritual father” (Large Catechism, Fourth Commandment, 158-163; Tappert, 387), to quote that section “For the name spiritual father belongs only to those who govern and guide us by the Word of God” (section 158).

    Furthermore, the Lutheran pastor pledges to uphold this statement “In order to preserve the pure doctrine and to maintain a thorough, lasting, and God-pleasing concord within the church, it is essential not only to present the true and wholesome doctrine correctly, but also to accuse the adversaries who teach otherwise [1 Timothy 3:9; Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:24; 2 Timothy 3:16). “Faithful shepherds,” as Luther states, “must both pasture or feed the lambs and guard against wolves so that they will flee from strange voices and separate the precious from the vile” (John 10:12-16; John 10:27; Jeremiah 15:19). (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Rule and Norm, 14; Tappert, 506).

    Regarding the three 300 member congregations in a five mile radius, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to start congregations that way. But once they get started, they have a life of their own, and their own reason for meeting. Congregations are a type of family, not a business. Do you shut down and divide a family because it “doesn’t make sense” anymore? They did that prior to the Civil War to slaves, and it was one of the main reasons that American slavery was heinous in principle, not just in practice.

    If you don’t want to attend a small or medium size congregation, you don’t have to; but the people who have been there all their life won’t go anywhere else.

    For myself, I will serve where God places me through the church placement process. Big, small, medium, growing, shrinking, plateaued; it doesn’t matter, BECAUSE I AM A SERVANT. I go where I am told to go, and will work to the best of my ability where I am placed. I think that any church is best served by pastors who understand that they are MINISTERS (another word for servant) and who have that attitude.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  15. Martin R. Noland :
    @James #10

    Regarding the three 300 member congregations in a five mile radius, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to start congregations that way. But once they get started, they have a life of their own, and their own reason for meeting. Congregations are a type of family, not a business. Do you shut down and divide a family because it “doesn’t make sense” anymore? They did that prior to the Civil War to slaves, and it was one of the main reasons that American slavery was heinous in principle, not just in practice.
    If you don’t want to attend a small or medium size congregation, you don’t have to; but the people who have been there all their life won’t go anywhere else.

    I think this is wonderfully stated. A congregation is a type of family and I find that a 150 – 300 member congregation can do very well for itself. Giving of themselves and their God given gifts is a testament to solid pastoral and laity leadership and trust in God. When we start defining what is the correct size of a congregation or the density of churches, we are lack trust in God to an extent.

  16. Three hundred is the most a sole Pastor can care for adequately.
    Any church that’s bigger needs more Pastors, in proportion, but they don’t always call them. [If the Associate Pastors are treated like “second class citizens”, (and some of that attitude was in evidence here), they don’t stay.]

    One Sr. Pastor said a few years ago that he had 1500 members: “I take care of 500; [my assistant] takes care of 500 and 500 look after themselves”. Sheep that have to “look after themselves” tend to stray. No fancy building or marvelous music program is going to keep them if there is no Pastoral concern when they have a personal need.

    @Perry Lund #17

  17. “A congregation is a type of family and I find that a 150 – 300 member congregation can do very well for itself.”

    What about having a school? It seems it would be hard to have a school at that size. What do you think?

  18. Martin R. Noland :
    This explains to me why we see so many people commenting here at BJS who uncomfortable with even fair-minded, measured criticism and justified dissent. They think that any form of criticism is NEGATIVE THINKING, and therefore is contrary to God and religion. The result is that they want to shut down this web-site and get rid of the people who comment here.

    Thank you, Pastor Noland!!

  19. Ok, I see your point Norm. And I appreciate the help with this.
    I was not prepared for the fact that some LCMS churches identify themselves as simply Lutheran.

  20. : 1. Transforming Churches Network(TCN). 2. Pastoral Leadership Institute(PLI). 3. Ablaze Program (Works Righteousness). 4. Church Growth ( Theology an Worship ). 5. Meta Church Theology. 6. Mega Church Theology. 7. Baptist Bible Study Programs. 8. Statement of the 44 in 45. (Attacked our biblical doctrine on Fellowship) These 44 Proponents of a Reformed teaching on Fellowship became a 5th column in Synod to change our churches whole confession of faith to reflect a Reformed Pietistic confession of faith. 9. Resolution 80-1A of the 2004 Houston Convention wrested all power and authority given to the church by Christ and concentrated into the hands of 36 District Presidents ( The C.O.P.) and one Synod President and turned the Ministry into a sycophant world of mostly hirelings who care more for their own things than the things of Christ in the Church. 10. Seminex (Historical Critical Method of interpreting scripture) undermined our churches Doctrine of the Word. 11. Resolution passed by the 1997 Florida-Georgia District Convention that called for and implemented Open Communion in all the congregations of the district, which resolution received unanimous approval and so codified that this whole district confessed the Reformed teaching on the Lord’s Supper and not one Minister that voted for this devilish doctrine was ever disciplined, even in the least manner. Also think of what other numerous congregations in the 36 districts do the same with no churchly repercussions at all and so we know all the districts have become Reformed if not in name at least in confession and practice. . 12. Other books and programs of a Reformed bent and Pietistic practice to numerous to mention.

    What all this adds up to is a church that in Substance and Form is Reformed and in some respects even Pagan, if you include in the above the Behnke Affair, Yankee Stadium Worship Service. (Worshiping with Pagans, confessing we all have the same god!)

    The Apostles had to form a new church body because the Jewish Ecclesiastics would not receive their Messiah and obey the Gospel. So also our Lutheran Fathers vis a vis the Roman Catholic Church.

    So also us, eventually. We will have no choice.

  21. @Albert Hughes #22
    Sorry, I left out of the above list, ‘Daystar’, jesus first umbrella organization that includes just about everyone who is or wants to be Neo-Anabaptist, Billy Graham wannabes, Neo Finnyist, non-confessional liberarian universalists.

  22. @Martin R. Noland #15

    Pastor Noland,

    Regarding my comments….no Schadenfreude intended, although I am amused by the stupid decisions of high-ranking leaders within the LCMS.

    I am convinced that many of the decisions made by synod leadership have damaged the LCMS. If the LCMS wants to run the church like a business, then would it also have the courage to audit the effectiveness of its Church Growth Movement programs. Instead, any LCMS church employee critical of Church Growth is either ostracized or fired. Eliminate the “negative” influences within the church. After all, they don’t believe in mission!

    I suppose it is normal for a pastor to wonder whether he is saying or doing the right things to grow his congregation. How much of the Church Growth model is helpful. Is all of it bad? Are there some redeeming parts. It bothers me that old forms of worship are being blamed for the problems within the LCMS. If so, then why do the laymen, who have been taught catechism well and who understand and appreciate the liturgy, seem to be the most loyal LCMS’ers.

    “Churchgoers demand entertainment, not edification.”
    .
    And when such people pray hard and still do not get the presents from God that Osteen has promised, what then? At what point will enough people see through the empty fluff of a Bill Hybels sermon and admit: “I have tried listening to the Whispers from God, but I still have not made all the right choices.” Church? Nah. I can get better self-help and entertainment someplace else.

    Wir verstehen uns, Pfarrer Noland!

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